Saturday, September 29, 2012

Saving the Moola: it's all in your head

So often, people fall victim to themselves. You get an idea that this is not going to work, there is no way we can live on a budget, we can't save money because we have no money, and so on and so forth.

I promise you - this is all in your head.

Many years ago, I didn't even have a thought of we can't save money. No, rather, I had no thoughts of saving money - we just didn't save money and it had never entered my head to do so. But when we were living in a tiny apartment and planning our dream wedding, that all changed. We weren't living on the budget we are living on now, but we were able to pay off loads of debt and pay for a very extravagant wedding - all on our own.

We believed we could do it.

And now that we've paid off more than half our remaining debt in just three and a half months and are now building up our savings for our expected addition to the family in March, I'm amazed at what is happening with our family.

In fact, I would say my friend, Jena, said it best when she said, in her blog post here about getting debt free,
"I can’t count the number of times I balanced the checkbook and the numbers came out in the red only to have an unexpected check show up in the mail that very day."
Jena goes on to describe that her husband often tells others that he doesn't know how they got there, but he knows it has something to do with the fact that his wife prays. A lot.

Since the beginning of July, we have had a chart hung in our bedroom of what we expect to put in savings on the first of the month and the 15th of the month (I am paid twice a month, not bi-weekly). Every single time, we have saved more than we had written down.

This should not be possible. We have a zero-based budget - meaning every single dollar has a place to go before the month even begins. We know what we make. Yet, to date, we have saved more than $1,000 total extra over what we have written down.

I literally have no idea where the money came from. We made a little more here and there, but it seems crazy to think it amounted to that much extra. It must've, since the extra money is not a banking or clerical error.

Here's my point: if you believe you can achieve it, if you work hard and make wise decisions, and if you are truly living your life for God and giving it all up to Him, you will find yourself blessed beyond your imaginings.

Oh, and a little positive attitude never hurt anyone. If you have a defeatist attitude, you will never get anywhere. Pick yourselves up by your bootstraps and get to work! This doesn't mean you have to work a million hours a week at a job you  hate - you can help your family or yourself along by having a menu plan, shopping wisely, staying home more and reading books to help you in your money smart journey. All of that, at the end of the day, is work. And these are things we can all do, no matter your circumstance in life.

So many of our blog posts are inspired by conversations we have with readers, blogger friends, friends and family. My mother nearly brought tears to my eyes one day while we were catching up on the phone. She told me how proud she was of me. She knows all too well that my husband and I have been on a journey together for the past nine (!) years to be wise, money smart and live for God. She told me that she tells people, "I never met anyone who could make a turnip bleed... until my daughter. She stretches her pennies."

That conversation inspired me to keep sharing as much encouragement as I can with all of you. I promise you, you can do this. Jason and I had debt, we lived in a 350 square foot apartment, we had a pet with severe health issues, we were planning our dream wedding and paying for it ourselves, and during all of that, our job situations were not stable. I don't know how many times I got a phone call from Jason to tell me he no longer had his job. But somehow, through of all that, with God being first in our lives, we prevailed.

We made it here. We have savings for an emergency, we have savings for our expected addition. Our debt is half what it was, and once the child arrives happy and healthy, we will be right back to it. We have a long-term plan to either keep our primary car running or buy a used car and eventually, buy a home.

We didn't do it on our own. Besides the fact that God's got a plan for us and has been with us through this journey, we had the encouragement of my parents, we had the pleasure of finding like-minded friends, like Jena, who inspired us, and we had each other - we rooted for each other every day.

Our journey is not over. In fact, in many ways, it's just begun. I encourage you to live life in a way you've never lived it before. Live it with abundant joy and wisdom, live it for the One who gave His son for you to have life, give your time, money, resources to others who truly, truly need it, and live every day feeling blessed. We don't have it all, but we have everything we need. We have more than we need. And we're praying that every single of you who read this will be encouraged and inspired by this to keep on your journey, or if you're not yet on this journey, to come along with us and millions others.


Carlye Jean Rankin said...

Thank you for this post. We are working on saving money for Christmas now and still pay down our debt. I needed some encouragement for the road ahead. We have a little wiggle room after saving and bills but it will be tight. I wanted to start saving for Christmas early because we now have more in our family.

You and Jason are awesome and will be amazing parents!

Jess and Jason said...

Carlye, I'm so glad we could provide some encouragement. I agree - it's not always easy, and it's usually tighter than we would like ;) Christmas will be so wonderful for you and Nathan this year with your TWO children now!!! God is working a big wonderful plan in your lives!

Carlye Jean Rankin said...

Thanks! It will be great! I am super excited. After I read your post I did a few things - I will be sharing them soon on my blog! God is so good!

Anonymous said...

I had no idea you wrote this until now. I'm near tears. Sometimes I question why I keep trying to blog and God has been quietly asking me to keep at it... now I think I know why. Thank you so much! You are truly an inspiration. :)

Jess and Jason said...

Jena, I'm so glad God led you to this post. You inspire me so much every day to keep plugging away at life and the things I know to be true and right. Thank YOU for sharing so much of your life with the rest of the world!!!!